25 Names of Fabrics, Wools, and Leathers Derived from Place Names

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This post lists and defines terms for apparel materials that have in common that the terms are derived from place names.

1. angora: a type of wool from Angora rabbits, which originated near Ankara (previously Angora), Turkey
2. Bedford cord: a corduroy-like fabric, named after Bedford, England, or New Bedford, Massachusetts
3. calico: a type of cloth originally from Calicut, India
4. cambric: a type of cloth originally from Cambrai, France
5. cashmere: a type of wool and a woolen fabric from Kashmir goats, which come from the Kashmir region of India
6. chino cloth: a cloth originating in China (the name is Spanish for “Chinese”)
7. Cordovan leather: a type of shoe leather first produced in Cordoba, Spain
8. damask: a type of fabric named after Damascus, Syria
9. denim: a type of fabric originally called serge de Nîmes, or “serge of Nîmes,” after Nîmes, a town in France
10. dungaree: a type of denim cloth originating in Dongrī, India; pants or overalls made from this fabric are called dungarees
11. duffel: a cloth first made in Duffel, Belgium
12. Harris tweed: a type of handwoven tweed cloth originating on the island of Lewis and Harris and adjacent islands in Scotland (the name of the cloth type tweed is coincidental with the name of the river Tweed)
13. Holland (or Holland cloth): a type of linen originally made in various parts of Europe, including the province of Holland in the Netherlands
14. jaconet: a fabric originally from Puri, India (the word is derived from the name of the city’s Jagannath Temple)
15. jean: a type of fabric originating in Genoa, Italy
16. jersey: a type of knit fabric originating on the island of Jersey, next to France (but a dependency of the United Kingdom)
17. Mackinaw cloth: a woolen cloth used for thick, warm jackets (called Mackinaws or Macs) originally favored by lumberjacks and then hunters and fishermen in the Mackinac (or Mackinaw) region of Michigan
18. madras: a lightweight cloth originally from Madras, India (now called Chennai)
19. muslin: a lightweight fabric originally from Mosul, Iraq
20. Morocco leather: a type of leather originally from Moroccan goats
21. nankeen: a type of fabric originating in Nanjing, China (previously called Nanking or Nankin); also refers to pants made of this material, as well as the pale buff or yellow color of the fabric, a type of porcelain originating in the city, and a type of lace (often called nankins) and part of the name of numerous animals and plants featuring this color
22. osnaburg: a coarse cloth originally made in Osnabrück, Germany
23. suede: a type of leather made from the underside of animal skins, originally referenced in the French phrase gants de Suède (“gloves from Sweden”); similar-looking fabrics are referred to as “sueded silk” and so on
24. tulle: a type of fabric originating in Tulle, France
25. worsted: a type of wool whose name is derived from that of Worstead, one of the villages from which it originated; also, the name of a type of yarn and a category of yarn weight

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8 thoughts on “25 Names of Fabrics, Wools, and Leathers Derived from Place Names”

  1. Items made from the same kind of denim cloth that is used to make blue jeans are called “dungarees”, too.
    The work clothes/combat clothes, to be worn on ships by enlisted men in the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard are called “dungarees”.
    Such sailors during WW II, before and after, got the nickname of “Bluejackets” because of the denim jackets that they wore. The services found that clothing, including long sleeves and long pants, provided some reasonable protection against burns, and THAT is important on steamships and all warships that carry artillery fired with “gunpowder”, “guncotton”, or anything like that. Ships also have a bad way of catching fire, and all sailors, submariners, and aviators are trained to be firefighters first and foremost. Fire is a special danger whenever any kind of aircraft are involved, and especially the older ones that ran on gasoline.
    Then more and more ships started carrying rockets and guided missiles. It is all an open invitation to get BURNED.

  2. “Persian” rugs and wall-hangings, made from kinds of cloth made in places like Persia, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

  3. Ricardo Montalban was famous for advertising Chrysler Cordoba cars, make with seats upholstered with “rich Corinthian leather”. However, the region of Corinth is in GREECE. Could this have been a mistake on the part of Mr. Montalban, or his scriptwriters, saying this instead of “rich Cordovan leather”.
    Cordoba is also a province within the Spanish region of Andalusia, so the stuff could have been “rich Andalusian leather”.
    There was also a noteworthy brand of shoe polish in the U.S. named “Cordovan”.

  4. Other names of colors, cloths, implements, etc., with names from British India & Burma. Geographical or not?
    hemp, khaki, saffron, Bangalore torpedoes (an infantry weapon), pukka hats.

  5. If there is Cordovan leather from Cordoba. then why was fine Corinthian leather used in the Chrysler Cordoba? Or was Ricardo Montalban trying to get one over on us? Didn’t think we’d notice the glaring inconsistency? Wrong!

  6. So, other people besides me noticed the oddity of “Corinthian leather” being used in a car named for a place in Spain. Besides leather from Cordoba and Andalusia, those cars could have been furnished with Aragonian leather, Castilian leather, Catalonian leather, Sevillian leather, Valencian leather, or even Basque leather.
    I am tempted to use the word Aragonese, but that is the name of a dialect of Spanish, just as Castilian and Catalanese are.

  7. Hello,
    I am from Cordoba (Spain). In Spanish Cordovan leather is a type of leather where you could write or draw something, most times in a artistic way. Actually Cordovan (In Spanish Cordobán) refers also to the technique to carve the leather in order to drive or draw using a burin (kind of punch). This technique was developed by the Muslims that governed a big part of Spain (Al-Andalus) during 8th-15th century and made Cordoba the capital for a while. There is a variation of Cordovan that adds color to the written and/or drawn leather named ‘guadameci’ (name coming from a Lybian city, Gadames). I have also seen leather carved in the latter way in some shops in Cordoba.
    French for shoemaker is ‘cordonnier’, that comes from cordouanier, meaning ‘craftsman from Cordoba working leather’. Perhaps from that meaning comes the English Cordovan leather.
    Best wishes

  8. Thank you Fernando, but
    “Lybian” is strange. It us usually spelled “Libyan” in English, and it refers to the country of Libya, which contains Tripoli, Benghazi, Tobruk, and Cyrenaica.

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